I'm not sure I understand you here. Does the singular נישוא mean something? Are you saying that the plural of that singular is the more masculine looking נישואים, but that נישואין is still grammatically a masculine plural?
This word doesn't have a singular.
נישוא doesn't mean anything
And the two words I wrote are the same, sometimes written this way and sometimes that way.
Thank you. I imagine, much like the English term nuptials, the singular may have had a meaning at some point that it no longer has.
Actually, nuptial is a perfectly valid and commonly used word.
In Hebrew there are many words that don't have a singular form. For example מים (water) and פנים (face). But in English there are certainly some words that signify a single object but are pluralized, such as "pants" and "eyeglasses"/"spectacles". With respect to this particular word, first off, the suffix ן instead of ם has to do with the Aramaic origin of the word. I suspect that the word has a plural sense because in Jewish tradition it specifically encompasses quite a few different components of the marriage process.
Here's an interesting article I found on the subject: (it's in Hebrew, great practice) http://goo.gl/1wmEZA
In the English I have heard spoken in the northwestern, northeastern, and north central parts of the United States, one does not hear the singular noun "nuptial." The adjective "nuptial" is heard, as in "nuptial blessing," and the plural "nuptials" is applied to weddings, but the singular noun is not. "Nuptials" is, of course, simply a substantivized adjective, and I suspect that "nuptial" as a singular noun might at one time have been used for a nuptial mass, but we now only use it in the plural form, I assume originally referring to all the events having to do with the wedding.
Arabic too has the "-een" ending for nouns . Now, it all fits together.
Just to mention it somewhere -- in the vocabulary introduction picture exercises, I got two identical pictures with the different words of "marriage" and "wedding". Which could be confusing…
Yeah, there should be two completely different pictures - two people dressed up for the ceremony for "wedding" and two people in pijamas arguing who is going to wash dishes for "marriage"
This is awkward in English because נישואין is plural and דבר is singular. In English, these would be expected to match: Marriages are serious things, or Marriage is a serious thing. I'll bet this question scores a very high percentage of wrong translations because of this.
It's not. It says נישואין הם (marriage is - or marriages are if you wanna be nitty gritty) דבר רציני (a serious thing)
They are saying (Israelis in the comments), that it's "they" because the word marriage (in Hebrew) is plural. Therefore it is "they" (plural) instead of singular to match "marriage".
If "נישואין" is plural, then why is its English equivalent singular ("marriage" and not marriages) ?
I don't understand this. Hebrew requires tense and number (singular/plural) to match, and נישואין seems female plural, הם for a single item (not mixed group) means male plural, and דבר is non-gender singular. How is this grammatically correct? Why not הן? Why not נישואים? Why not דברים?
Well, נִשּׂוּאִין is an Aramaic plural and indeed masculine. The Hebraized spelling would be נִשּׂוּאִים. I suppose, the word "marriage" was used much in Rabbinic writings, where Aramaic expressions abound, and so this form was retained in Modern Hebrew too. As "marriage" is a plurale tantum, i.e. technically a plural form for a single thing, you may call it a דָּבָר, like English "Scissors are a good thing to have handy."